From Despair to Hope: How Horses Can Help Us Heal and Find Meaning

Some days you can wake up and feel so full of possibilities, and other days you might feel the complete opposite, life may seem nearly unbearable. All beings need to experience mattering no matter how they feel. All beings need safe spaces where they are welcomed as they are and listened to deeply and completely. Horses have an amazing power to heal and to teach.  They offer unconditional friendship, experience a wide range of feelings, and provide immediate, honest, observable feedback in response to our interactions with them. 

Relationships are healing for both horses and humans. Let me share with you a clients recent experience.


"I had an amazing day today, something I say often. 

And just as often a voice tells me to run far, far away, as fast as I can and that I just need to hide under a rock and die.  It is one of my voices that arise when I feel lost or incompetent or unloved or believe that I just do not matter and that I never will.  And as I rest with this part, I can finally take a breath and see more clearly.  This part is so desperate and has no hope. In these moments she is needing closeness and nurturance and to know that she matters and is loved unconditionally by another being.  She is needing to feel felt, to actually have another being feel and understand just what it feels like to be her in the moment.  She needs to know that no matter what everything will be all right.  She also needs to know that however small or expansive her struggles show up, that they will all be welcomed, that there will be soothing, and that she makes sense. 

On these amazing days I might have experienced joy and happiness, I might have spent time with a special horse, or I just might have come from a place of struggle and have emerged into a lighter place.    

For so long others have shamed me and made fun of me or have told me to get over it.  And inside, these stories and struggles just kept arising and I did my best to tell myself that they didn't matter, that I didn't matter, that I didn't belong, that I would never belong, that I would never have friends, that if anyone started to get close, they would never stay, that they would run far and as fast away as they could, that they would eventually leave, that I would be left all alone. 

Lately, I have experienced brain bursts in which I can only describe as it feels as if an explosion goes off in my head leaving behind so much pressure and energy.  My ears burn and I can't think or hear, or see faces clearly.  I know that it is only my perception of others that has momentarily changed, but it feels like in the moment that I don't matter, that others are intentionally causing me pain. 

What I have learned from my experience is how when I go into states of panic or fear that my senses are altered.  I was not able to hear the higher frequencies of the human voice in the moment of panic or fear because my body was reacting to some stimulus and my ears tuned into the lower frequencies to scan for possible danger.

What I recognize is that in the past when this part would show up, I would dismiss it, ignore it, or shame it.  What I chose to do today was to allow that part to be seen as much as it felt safe to do so.  I allowed a horse to come in close to me, really close. I got curious about my inner experience and then I found the courage to name my experience out loud without naming any names, and finally, because I really did not wish to experience anymore discomfort, I named that part and asked a question that I knew the answer to, but my younger inner part needed to hear it answered out loud. When I named my experience the horse acknowledged my inner  shift to calm alert by snorting loudly, bumped my belly with his nose and then gave me a hug.  

I found the courage to follow through because of something Gloria shared during my session about multiple personalities.  I thought about how some people actually do have multiple personalities and switch between them without consciousness.  Well, I have some parts that show up like this young part did today.  She has her own thoughts and feelings and needs, and today I saw that part with much more compassion than I ever have before. What I came to realize today was that it is all right to name these struggles and that I make sense."


Relationships are healing. Warm, resonant relationships provide wellsprings of hope where trust is nurtured and you can relax into the profound experience of mattering and making sense.


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